Not All Sales Positions Are Created Equal: The Sliding Scale of Selling Challenges

By March 25, 2014 2 Comments

Not All Sales Positions are Created Equal

It’s no secret that selling can be a difficult profession. It’s challenging in ways that other positions aren’t. It can be high stakes, it takes a lot of effort and determination, it comes with deadlines and quotas, and you often do most of your work on your own.

Depending on the company you work for, you may be up against different challenges than, say, your buddy that works in sales for another company. Let’s explore the sliding scale of selling challenges. Salesperson A works for a small start-up. The company has gone through several rounds of funding and Salesperson A is the main point of contact for giving these investors a return on their investment. Salesperson B works for a large corporation. The company is well known in their industry and the general public is aware of the brand.

At the end of the work day, Salesperson A and Salesperson B can have very different experiences because they face different challenges.

What type of challenges to “entrepreneurial salespeople” and “professional salespeople” face?

Challenges entrepreneurial salespeople face: (Salesperson A)

  • You are the receptionist, marketer, customer service rep, accountant, business manager, HR department, and salesperson.
  • You have this amazing product or service, but no one has ever heard of you (except, of course, your mom).
  • You don’t necessarily have ‘sales tools’ – just the words in your head and an idea of what to say to attract potential customers.
  • You’re a multitasking machine because you (and you alone) are responsible for delivering at each step of the sales process.
  • You may not know what to charge for your product or service (because no one has bought it yet!)

Challenges ‘professional’ salespeople face: (Salesperson B)

  • You may be responsible for a part of the sales process, but your coworkers help the customer move through the sales process.
  • Customers are aware of your brand but they are also aware of your competitors.
  • You have a plethora of material (maybe too much) that you use throughout the sales process. You may struggle to determine what piece of collateral to send to which prospect.
  • You do the same type of work each day and leave other departments in the company to do the same. You may have to work through bureaucratic red tape to get changes or ideas approved. There is a lot of structure and process to work through.
  • Your pricing is static and determined by others in your company.

Neither one of these lists of challenges is ‘easier’ than the other. Both come with a certain amount of complexity and ambiguity that the salesperson must work through.

Luckily for Salesperson A and B, there are strategies to increase sales productivity for both entrepreneurial and professional salespeople.

10 strategies/tips to increase your personal sales productivity:

  1. Sell what makes you different (not just ‘better).
  2. Stop confusing ‘busyness’ with productivity. Be aware of your own shortcuts and defaults.
  3. Ditch the facts and figures and specifications. Tell a story. Connect.
  4. Define what success will look like at the end of the day (and do the little things that will get you there).
  5. Be conscious of others’ time. Be willing to give time back to them – they will thank you later.
  6. Step away from technology. Send a thank you note (yes, in the mail…with a stamp) to set yourself apart from the online clutter.
  7. Batch similar tasks into blocks. Instead of customizing proposals, emailing a prospect, and updating your CRM after every phone call, save these tasks for the last 1-2 hours of your day, for example.
  8. Go offline. (I’m not kidding). The constant ‘ping’ of a new email hitting your inbox can do more harm than good.
  9. Wake up 30 minutes earlier. Only you will know what you need or want to do with this ‘extra’ time.
  10. Make a list of your top 5 priorities every morning. Cross off the bottom two and commit to getting the first 3 done.

In his most recent book, To Sell Is Human, Dan Pink writes: “The ability to move others to exchange what they have for what we have is crucial to our survival and our happiness…The capacity to sell isn’t some unnatural adaptation to the merciless word of commerce. It is part of who we are.” We are all salespeople. We just have to learn how to communicate with greater influence.

If you’re interested in the entrepreneurial-professional selling challenges and the ways in which you can positively influence your sales productivity…

register for our upcoming webinar with BASE! 

You can register for the free webinar here.

Date: Wednesday, April 2nd at 2:00pm CDT

Items we’ll discuss:

  • How salespeople should schedule their day to improve productiivity
  • Top challenges for sales teams of all sizes
  • How sales data will be used in the future of selling
  • If science is overtaking the art of selling
  • Why storytelling will ignite sales performance

Craig Wortmann is the CEO of Sales Engine. He is a master of storytelling, keynote speaker, and author of What’s Your Story?: Using Stories to Ignite Performance and Be More Successful. Craig is a Clinical Professor of Entrepreneurship at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. Inc.com named his course, Entrepreneurial Selling, one of the Best Courses of 2011. Connect with him on Google+ and Twitter.


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